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coronavirus update 26/03/2020 (2)

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE 28 MARCH 2020

 

 

COMPANY DIRECTORS – LACK OF SUPPORT?

The support offered to Company Directors so far, is restricted to a claim under the Job Retention Scheme (JRS). Many Directors take a small basic salary and the remainder of their remuneration as dividends. This is perfectly legal. It is slightly more tax / NIC advantageous but that advantage narrowed significantly with the introduction of the Dividend Tax. Many business owners are advised to operate through a Limited Company for the protection of Limited Liability that it provides.

Under the schemes announced so far, Employees will get 80% of their wages covered by the JRS and they will continue to accrue holiday entitlement. The Self Employed can made a claim under the Self Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS). Great news.

Business owners have been asked to help the Government to administer a huge new benefits system, as Employers, the JRS, to support employees.

Many Business Owners will suffer severe financial losses during these difficult times and whilst obviously it is a ‘Health over Wealth’ situation, we need strong businesses in future to repay the debt that we are building up.

In such difficult, fast moving times, we cannot have a totally fair system. However if we really are ‘all in this together’ why is there such a disparity for Small Business Company Directors, who were once considered the backbone of the UK economy?

These business will contribute significantly to the future prosperity of our country and will pay their share of taxes, to repay the debt.

If you agree, please consider signing the petition below.

HERE

 

 

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE 26 MARCH 2020

            

  • WhatsApp Groups
  • Rates
  • Self Employed
  • Personal cashflow
  • Job Retention Scheme
  • Summary of the Main Reliefs Announced So far

  

None of this information is precious or restricted and this is definitely not a sales pitch. We need to get as much information out, to as many as we can, as quickly as we can, please.

  

WhatsApp Groups

 We have 5 WhatsApp groups running now to ask questions on;

    1. General
    2. VAT
    3. Employers & JRS
    4. Self Employed
    5. Rates

You can join any, or all of the groups. Click on the invites on our website

http://advocouk.com/covid-19/join-our-whatsapp-groups

 Please join the groups of interest to you, ask questions and I will answer them ASAP. I will use these as a basis for a FAQ sheet as well.

 

Rates 

This is causing a lot of confusion and I believe there may be some more guidance on rates, being released. I will be doing a video specifically on Rates later today, which will be on the website later.

We believe that any rates reliefs will be a relatively automatic process but if your business qualifies for a grant, you will probably need to submit some information, including bank details, to your Local Authority, probably by a secure portal.

Please do not give anyone your bank details over the phone, scammers are already trying to take advantage.

Please have a look at our ‘current’ guidance at Rates which I have copied and pasted to the end of this, but this will probably be updated later.

 

 Self Employed 

So sorry for the delay on this but the Chancellor is speaking today on this subject, presumably in the early evening slot.

 Just to confirm, we do not have any detailed guidance as yet for the self employed or Company Directors or property landlords.

 The administration to support the self employed is very difficult and I think this is the main reason why any announcement has been delayed.

The Universal Credit helpline has been drowning in calls. At one point there were reportedly 76,000 in the queue.

 

Personal Cashflow

I would now recommend that everyone completes a list of their income and expenditure, if you have not already done so.

Accountants love a budget / cashflow but it not boring in these circumstances, it is essential that we all have an understanding of what is coming in, going out and when.

 There will be a spreadsheet available on our website later today called PERSONAL CASHFLOW. This will be a spreadsheet but use it as a template if you do not like spreadsheets and use a pen and paper instead.

 If you have not done this before, you need to prepare first.

Get as much paperwork together as you can, so all of your bills, invoices etc. Print or download your last 3 months bank statements and use these as a guide.

 Find somewhere quiet and you will need at least an hour in my experience.

 Use the excel sheet or your paper, to just put your outgoings in date order, using previous months bank statement as a guide. Complete everything you can as best you can, this will not be perfect. Highlight or circle anything that is uncertain.

 Depending on your opening bank balance and any reserves that you may have, the timing of any income that you may be getting in future, this cashflow should help show when you may have a personal cashflow issue.

 You need that information first before you can think about what to do about it.

  

Employers – Job Retention Scheme - JRS

 Myth – “We have to be closed down by the Government to claim back employee wages under the scheme. “      Total Nonsense.

 Please, if it is not safe to go to work, send your staff home.

All Employers can claim employee wages back under the JRS. You do not have to wait to be shutdown by the Government or for the country to be put on total lockdown.

 Health has to be the priority now more than ever.

 If an Employer advises staff to go home and they are not working, the Employer can put the employees onto ‘Furloughed’ status (we have template letters that you can email to staff)

Once staff are Furloughed, the Employer will be able to claim 80% of their wages for those employees not working, up to a maximum of £2,500 pm, if you keep the staff on the payroll.

 The scheme applies to all employers and it is for all employees under the PAYE system. It will apply even if employers have laid staff off since 1 March.

 This assistance will be a grant (not a loan) from HMRC to cover wages.

 It is not a loan but it will need to be claimed and this will be through the PAYE system.

 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses#support-for-businesses-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

 There are still many questions to be answered about this scheme, for example, what does not working mean.

 As soon as we have the detail we will provide an update.

 

Summary of the Main Reliefs Announced So far

I have attached a summary of the main reliefs attached so far and also various links below.

Please use these links, they are all very useful and also have a look at our overview

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses#support-for-businesses-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

 

https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-support/

 

https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/faqs/

 

CRORONAVIRUS UPDATE 24 MARCH 2020

 

Last night saw a very historic announcement from Boris, which included closing many more businesses for 3 weeks initially, a full list below;

 https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/874732/230320_-_Revised_guidance_note_-_finalVF.pdf

 We have also now got some detail on the help that will become available for the self employed and there is a video on our website and Facebook and we have updated our self employed guide on our website as well.

 None of this information is restricted, please share with your friends and family, anyone who will benefit.

 

Should We / Can We Stay Open?

 

Some businesses will have to stay open if they provide essential services or if they are linked to essential services. The NHS and MOD for example are essential services and if you are supplying or supporting them, you may also be essential. The full list is available at the link below and I have copied and pasted these at the end of the notes.

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision

 If you can stay open you need to consider staffing requirements carefully.

 If you have any staff in the at risk categories, or they should be shielded, or they are in contact with anyone in those groups, they should really not come to work and they only can if they travel alone and they are working alone.

 These staff should be Furloughed, put on short term lay off but not being made redundant. Please see our guidance on the Job Retention Scheme.

 Then consider your remaining pool of staff and use some form of selection criteria to decide who can continue to work to help you provide your essential services.

 

Below is a list of retailers that will be allowed to stay open:

Supermarkets and other food shops Pharmacies Petrol stations Newsagents Bicycle shops Home and hardware stores Laundrettes and dry cleaners Garages Pet shops Post Offices Banks

Businesses will still be able to take online orders and deliver items to people's homes.

 

Looking at the partial lockdown, many of our clients will now be closing.

 If you are closing your business this will be a very difficult time. Your business is very personal to you and you probably spend more time in your business than anything else in your life.

 You will be worrying about finances, your staff, your customers and suppliers, as well as your friends and family. This is all very natural, we are all in the same boat, you are not alone.

 

If you have had to close and your staff are ‘not working’ they can be laid off temporarily, without being made redundant. This is termed, ‘Furloughed’ You are entitled to reclaim 80% of employees pay if they have been Furloughed.

 We will be sending clients a letter that they can send to staff to confirm they have been furloughed. These are unprecedented times but we still need to try and comply with Employment Law as much as possible. Obviously you cannot call staff meetings and so we think a letter is the best we can do in the circumstances.

 We would recommend that you try and let people know that you are closed temporarily and that you will be back ASAP and in the meantime they can contact you.

 Once you have done all of the essential temporary close down measures needed, take a step back. It has been a very chaotic couple of weeks. Your health and wellbeing and those around you, is more crucial than ever in difficult times. Recharge your batteries.

 You will then be in a much better frame of mind to consider the future of the business. We undoubtedly have difficult times ahead so use the time wisely so that you can position your business as well as possible.

 Look at the guides on our website, make a note of any questions that you have as you go through them and send us an email or call us. We are still very contactable.

  • Look at your business and your personal cashflow (or do a cashflow if you have not yet). There will be a template on our website. Identify when a cashflow problem hits.
  • Complete a personal income and expenditure plan, use your last 3 months bank statements.
  • Make a plan – what are you going to do when you can open again. We do not know when this will be but prepare. The plan can always be adapted.
  • Look at your business plan or do one. Review it, refresh it.
  • If you need to apply for any funding all of the above documents will be useful and will ensure we can approach lenders as well prepared as possible.

  

Essential Services

Health and social care

This includes but is not limited to doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff including volunteers; the support and specialist staff required to maintain the UK’s health and social care sector; those working as part of the health and social care supply chain, including producers and distributers of medicines and medical and personal protective equipment.

 Education and childcare

This includes childcare, support and teaching staff, social workers and those specialist education professionals who must remain active during the COVID-19 response to deliver this approach.

Key public services

This includes those essential to the running of the justice system, religious staff, charities and workers delivering key frontline services, those responsible for the management of the deceased, and journalists and broadcasters who are providing public service broadcasting.

 Local and national government

This only includes those administrative occupations essential to the effective delivery of the COVID-19 response, or delivering essential public services, such as the payment of benefits, including in government agencies and arms length bodies.

 Food and other necessary goods

This includes those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery, as well as those essential to the provision of other key goods (for example hygienic and veterinary medicines).

 Public safety and national security

This includes police and support staff, Ministry of Defence civilians, contractor and armed forces personnel (those critical to the delivery of key defence and national security outputs and essential to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic), fire and rescue service employees (including support staff), National Crime Agency staff, those maintaining border security, prison and probation staff and other national security roles, including those overseas.

Transport

This includes those who will keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the COVID-19 response, including those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass.

 Utilities, communication and financial services

This includes staff needed for essential financial services provision (including but not limited to workers in banks, building societies and financial market infrastructure), the oil, gas, electricity and water sectors (including sewerage), information technology and data infrastructure sector and primary industry supplies to continue during the COVID-19 response, as well as key staff working in the civil nuclear, chemicals, telecommunications (including but not limited to network operations, field engineering, call centre staff, IT and data infrastructure, 999 and 111 critical services), postal services and delivery, payments providers and waste disposal sectors.

  

Cashflow

Cashflow is going to be even more crucial than ever during this uncertain period. We recommend that our clients start by making an initial cashflow forecast for the next month. It does not need to be sophisticated. 

Something simple and understandable is better than nothing or something too complex. Make notes of any assumptions. Use the last months bank statement as a guide to the typical transactions and the timing of them. 

There will be a spreadsheet template on our website.

  • Consider spreading payments initially and focus on your largest outgoings first, contact them and ask if they can help
  • Contact banks and ask for a short term loan repayment holiday, this will extend the term of the loan
  • Contact other finance providers and ask for a short term loan repayment holiday
  • Consider deferring tax payments
  • Contact the Local Authority about grants and hardship funds
  • Contact the Business Support Line – 03004563565
  • Contact your insurer and see if you have any insurance cover
  • If you are Self employed contact JobCentre Plus about the assistance they may be able to receive

 

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE 21 MARCH 2020

The Job Retention scheme was the big announcement yesterday.

 There are still some questions which will hopefully become clearer over the weekend.

 Can you please send wendy email addresses of bookkeepers, bankers etc anyone who you think may benefit from our updates.

Attached is a guide for the Job Retention Scheme which was the biggest announcement last night.

READ MORE HERE

The full package of measures, announced so far to support businesses include;

  • a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  • deferring VAT and Income Tax payments
  • a Statutory Sick Pay relief package for SMEs
  • a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England
  • small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
  • grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank
  • a new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans
  • the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19

 

Other Measures Announced on 20 March;

Self-employed will able to access universal credit, up to the value of statutory sick pay.

 Tax self assessment payment normally due on 31 July 2020 will be deferred until January 2021

There will be £1bn support for renters.

 

Business Interruption Loans

 These will Interest free for 12 months and we can  start to apply on Monday. We believe that the process will be as follows; 

    • Last years annual accounts
    • Current up to date Management Information
    • Forecast of the level of funding  required

  

VAT Payments

 VAT payment deferral scheme – Automatic, no application required

 No VAT payments from now until end of July.

 Any VAT deferred will be repaid by the end of March 2021, with no penalties or interest

 This will give 8 months to make up the quarters payment that has been deferred from August 2020 to March 2021.

 

Other announcements on 20 March included;

 Cafes, pubs and restaurants must close from Friday night (20/3), except for take-away food.

 Night clubs, theatres, cinemas, gyms and leisure centres have also been asked to close "as soon as they reasonably can". 

 Crucially they did not include shops.

Boris Johnson said, 'We'll stand by businesses if you will stand behind your workers.’

 Other words used included

 Unprecedented,      All in it together,         Colossal Intervention ……….

  The announcements are a clear indication that Employers should try to avoid making staff redundant. The Government are paying a grant of 80% of wages up to £2500 pm for 3 months. This will give employers a lot of comfort and now you can look at making more medium term decisions.

 

This is all very welcome, it does provide a lot of businesses with a much better platform

and helps with employment costs and follows the measures for the Rates system. This will mitigate the  huge redundancies which were looming imminently next week before these measures were announced.

 However businesses have lots of other outgoings to consider as well and please still remember that ultimately cashflow will be king over the coming months.

 There is still a lot more help needed for the self employed and we hope that this will come through in further announcements next week.

Hopefully this indicates that they believe that this virus is causing a short term shock to the economy and they want businesses to be able to adhere to the medical advice but when we can all return to ‘normal’, businesses will be in a position to fire back up and trade at as close to capacity, as quickly as possible. This will help the economy to recover as quickly as possible.

  

Our Dial In Call Last Night

Thank you for all those that dialled in and apologies if you could not get through.

Thank you to Steve Gill and Anna-Maria Geare for their banking advice and also to Gill Fribbance (Nantes Solicitors for her Employment Law advice). I would also like to thank Geoff Timms of Comms UK for his advice about, laptops etc and alerting us to the banking scammers who are unbelievably taking advantage of this situation.

Honestly I really did not anticipate that many people would dial in but it does indicate the level of concern that we are all feeling at the moment. We are all in the same boat which is hopefully a little reassuring.

Apologies for some of the issues on the call with sound etc. I only thought about doing a call on Thursday night, when I was hopeful that the Chancellor was going to make some positive announcements. We were still testing at 4pm!

I wanted to be able to get the information from the Chancellor across ASAP and crucially before the weekend. We have had a lot of discussions with clients this week and a lot were heading towards considering redundancies over the weekend.

We do not have all of the answers but hopefully we cleared up some issues and it gave some of you a bit of breathing space and a slightly easier weekend.

I am looking at ways to improve our general communication with clients. We want to speak to all of you every day but that is impossible. We are also preparing for a lockdown.

I am looking at videos or webinars to provide information for clients (and non-clients, please share this to whoever you feel may benefit). You can then look at these in your own time and I can then follow this up with group calls. I will look to split the calls into groups, so that we have less people on each call.

If we do group calls in the future can I respectfully ask that you try and take the call in a quiet room away from background noises, TV’s and other devices which may create interference.

coronavirus update 02/06/2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE 2 JUNE 2020 

 

DISCRETIONARY GRANTS


Various Local Authorities including Dorset CC and Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole have now opened portals to apply for discretionary rates grants.

The link for DCC is
https://dorset-self.achieveservice.com/…/Discretionary_smal…

Please read the FAQ's before starting an application

https://www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/…/discretionary-grant-fund…

You must apply by 14 June.

The scheme is available to all small businesses if any of the following apply:

  • Businesses with relatively high ongoing fixed property-related costs
  • Businesses which can demonstrate that they have suffered a significant fall in income due to the COVID-19 crisis
  • Businesses which occupy property, or part of a property, with a rateable value or annual rent or annual mortgage payments below £51,000 (or marginally over £51k, in exceptional circumstances if funding allows)
  • Small businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces.

You cannot apply if you have received a Rates Grant already

The DCC portal is quite straight forward but we will obviously help clients with any questions.

The slightly tricky section is where you have to include your financial loss.

There is no specific guidance how to complete this section.

I would recommend that you need to try and make it easy for someone to review the claim easily. I would include at least some background and then actual figures to quantify losses for example;

Business description -
Our business is operating .......

We have been adversely affected by Covid 19 because ..........

Turnover
We have already seen turnover drop by £ compared to last year, or we have lost bookings of £

Property costs (if you have these I would include them)

Our monthly property costs are £

Please contact us if you have any questions.

 

 

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE 14 MAY 2020 

 

LOCAL AUTHORITY (LA) DISCRETIONARY GRANTS FUNDS

 Some details have come through on these Grants and the link below is the full guidance for Local authorities and I have attached this as well.  More detail will follow.

 https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/885011/local-authority-discretionary-grants-fund-guidance-local-government.pdf

This document is the guidance given by the Government to LA. The LA have been delegated the responsibility to set the criteria and award the grants.

 We will have to wait for each LA to issue their own T’s & C’s

  

I have taken some of the pertinent parts from the guidance and pasted this below but in summary; 

  • The grants will be distributed at the discretion of the individual LA
  • The grants are expected to become available from early June
  • Each LA is expected to outline their own criteria
  • Each LA will have their own claims process

  

These grants will be aimed at; 

  • Businesses which are struggling due to CV 19,
  • Businesses which can demonstrate that they have suffered a significant fall in income due to the COVID-19 crisis
  • Businesses which have missed out on other support measures
  • Businesses which have high fixed property related costs
  • Businesses which occupy property, or part of a property, with a rateable value or annual rent or annual mortgage payments below £51,000.

 

The amount of the grant will be determined by the LA based upon their own criteria, which may include; 

  • the level of fixed costs faced by the business
  • the number of employees,
  • whether businesses have had to close completely and are unable to trade online and
  • the consequent scale of impact of COVID-19 losses.

  

Example of Businesses that may qualify include; 

  • Small businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces,  which do not have their own business rates assessment;
  • Regular market traders with fixed building costs, such as rent, who do not have their own business rates assessment;
  • Bed & Breakfasts which pay Council Tax instead of business rates; 

 

Details From The Guidance

 This additional fund is aimed at small businesses who were not eligible for the Small Business Grant Fund or the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Fund

Local authorities will be responsible for delivering grants to eligible businesses

 This grant scheme widens access to support to businesses who are struggling to survive due to the Corona virus shutdown but are unable to access other grant funding. Local authorities should make payments as quickly as possible to support struggling businesses.

We anticipate that the first payments made under the scheme will be received by businesses by early June.

Local authorities may disburse grants to the value of £25,000, £10,000 or any amount under £10,000. The value of the payment to be made to a business is at the discretion of the local authority.

In taking decisions on the appropriate level of grant, local authorities may want to take into account the level of fixed costs faced by the business in question, the number of employees, whether businesses have had to close completely and are unable to trade online and the consequent scale of impact of COVID-19 losses.

 Bearing in mind the above, local authorities should set out clear criteria for determining the appropriate level of grant to give businesses clarity.

 These grants are primarily and predominantly aimed at: 

  • Small and micro businesses, as defined in Section 33 Part 2 of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 and the Companies Act 2006.
  • Businesses with relatively high ongoing fixed property-related costs
  • Businesses which can demonstrate that they have suffered a significant fall in income due to the COVID-19 crisis
  • Businesses which occupy property, or part of a property, with a rateable value or annual rent or annual mortgage payments below £51,000.

 

 We want local authorities to exercise their local knowledge and discretion and we recognise that economic need will vary across the country, so we are setting some national criteria for the funds but allowing local authorities to determine which cases to support within those criteria.

We are asking local authorities to prioritise the following types of businesses for grants from within this funding pot: 

  • Small businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces. Examples could include units in industrial parks, science parks and incubators which do not have their own business rates assessment;
  • Regular market traders with fixed building costs, such as rent, who do not have their own business rates assessment;
  • Bed & Breakfasts which pay Council Tax instead of business rates; and
  • Charity properties in receipt of charitable business rates relief which would otherwise have been eligible for Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rate Relief. The list set out above is not intended to be exhaustive but is intended to guide local authorities as to the types of business that the government considers should be a priority for the scheme. Authorities should determine for themselves whether particular situations not listed are broadly similar in nature to those above and, if so, whether they should be eligible for grants from this discretionary fund.   
  • Businesses which have received cash grants from any central government COVID-related scheme are ineligible for funding from the Discretionary Grants Fund. Such grant schemes include but are not limited to:
  • This grant funding is for businesses that are not eligible for other support schemes.
  • Self Employment Income Support Scheme
  • Small Business Grant Fund
  • Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant
  • The Fisheries Response Fund
  • Domestic Seafood Supply Scheme (DSSS).
  • The Zoos Support Fund
  • The Dairy Hardship Fund     
  • It is recognised that local authorities will need to run some form of application process as the potential beneficiaries are highly unlikely to be known directly by the local authorities.
  • Only businesses which were trading on 11 March 2020 are eligible for this scheme.
  • Businesses who have applied for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme are eligible to apply for this scheme. 

 

 

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE 13 MAY 2020 

  

  • Self Employed Income Support Scheme – Portal Opens Today

 

  • Extension to the Furlough Scheme

 

  • Returning To Work Considerations
    • Notifying Employees and potential issues
    • Workplace Risk Assessments
    • Holiday pay consideration 

  

SELF EMPLOYED INCOME SUPPORT SCHEME – CLAIM PORTAL OPENS TODAY

The claims portal opens today for the first claimants. Claim are being staggered over the next few days.

If you have not already done so, please use the HMRC online tool to find out if and when you are eligible to make a claim.

https://www.tax.service.gov.uk/self-employment-support/enter-unique-taxpayer-reference

HMRC will advise you the date you can make your claim from.

If you are able to make a claim you will need your Government Gateway Account

 

If you have a Gateway Account, you can sign in from this link;

 https://www.tax.service.gov.uk/bas-gateway/sign-in?continue_url=/account&origin=

 If you do not have a Gateway Account, set one up immediately 

 

Making The Claim

 When you make your claim you will need your: 

  • Self Assessment UTR 
  • National Insurance number 
  • Government Gateway user ID and password - if you do not have a user ID, you can create one when you check your eligibility online 
  • Bank account number and sort code you want HMRC to pay the grant into 

After you have claimed, you will be told straight away if your grant is approved. HMRC will pay the grant into your bank account within 6 working days. 

 

FURLOUGH SCHEME EXTENSION

 The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak announced significant changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, now commonly referred to as the furlough scheme.

The scheme had been due to run until at least 30 June 2020. The Chancellor has now confirmed to the House of Commons that the furlough scheme will be extended for a further 4 months until the end of October and kept open for all sectors.

The Chancellor promised that the scheme will continue in its current form until the end of July.

From 1 August until 31 October 2020, there will be greater flexibility added and employers encouraged to bring back furloughed staff part-time. However, employers will be asked to pay a percentage towards the salaries of their furloughed staff.

We are told that further details on the changes to the scheme and information about its implementation will be published by the end of May.

The Chancellor was keen to stress that workers will continue to receive the same level of overall support of 80% of their current salary, up to £2,500 until the end of October. From August, employer payments will help to substitute the contribution the government is currently making in paying their employees.

 

These measures should help to gradually encourage employees back to work and avoid the cliff-edge cut-off that has worried many businesses. 

 

RETURNING TO WORK

 The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy also published new guidance on 11 May 2020, titled ‘Working safely during Coronavirus (COVID-19)’. 

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19

The guidance provides information on making workplaces as secure as possible from the Coronavirus threat.

Following these recent announcements you may be considering asking some or all of your staff to return to work. This creates a new series of issues for Business Owners to consider.

It is an Employers decision to ask an employee to return to work. In order to do this an Employer will have sufficient work available and they must then;

 

  1. Advise the employee in writing that they are bringing the furlough period to an end and request that they return to work 

 

      2. Carry out a risk assessment in accordance with the Government guidelines and take any reasonable preventative measures

 

I have put together an example notice (below) that Employers can send to employees to advise them that you are asking them to return to work.

Please have a look at the Government advice on returning to work. It is important Employers carry out a risk assessment and take any sensible preventative measures that they possibly can.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19

Employers should take all reasonable steps to make the workplace as secure as possible. Employers cannot ‘guarantee’ absolute safety from the virus, it is impossible.

Please document your Risk Assessment.

Employees may have questions. I would recommend any questions are made in writing and that you respond in writing to ensure that you have an audit trail of the communications.

It is important to remember that the Furlough scheme was put in place for Employers who do not have enough work for employees, to be able to lay off employees, temporarily.

It is the decision of Employers to furlough employees, it is not the employee’s decision.

We are seeing instances of employees who do not want to return to work. This has been termed ‘Furlough Fever’.

 Employees cannot unreasonably refuse to return to work. If they do the employees can insist they take the unauthorised absence as 

  • Holiday Pay
  • Unpaid Leave
  • Start Disciplinary measures 

Disciplinary measures could go as far a dismissal without notice on the basis of Gross Misconduct. The employee’s actions result in a breakdown of trust and confidence between the employer and employee making the working relationship impossible to continue.

If you need to consider disciplinary action please take legal advice.

Hopefully, most employees and employers will be reasonable and if employers discuss issues with employees most issues should be resolved. Employees may have genuine reasons and these should be considered.

Please keep a written record of all decisions and actions taken. 

 

Return to Work Notice – Please adapt to your own circumstances

 

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme - return from Furlough leave 

As you know, we agreed to place you on Furlough leave under the Government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) with effect from XX March 2020.

The business now has sufficient work available and I therefore request that you return to work on XX May 2020.

I have carried out a risk assessment in accordance with the Government guidelines and I have taken reasonable steps to mitigate the Covid 19 risks.

As a result of returning to work, we are bringing your Furlough period to an end and you are required to resume work on your normal terms and conditions of employment.

This means that, from XX May 2020 you will receive 100% of your salary.

You will be briefed on the new working conditions and the additional measures required to mitigate the Covid 19 risks, whilst at work.

If circumstances change, you should be aware that we may have to place you on Furlough leave again. If this happens, we shall seek your agreement to return you to Furlough leave.

Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

 

Holiday Related Queries

We have had several queries regrading holiday entitlement whilst employees are Furloughed.

  

How should employers treat Bank Holidays falling in the furlough period?

If employees usually take Bank Holidays as leave, the employer must top up the employee’s pay to their usual holiday pay rate or give them a day’s holiday in lieu.

 

Can employees carry forward holiday into the next leave year?

The Government has advised that employees who have not taken all of their statutory annual leave entitlement (up to 20 days) will be able to carry it over into the next two leave years. This applies where, on account of coronavirus, it is not reasonably practicable for employees to take some or all of the holiday to which the employee is entitled.

 

Can employees have holiday paid whilst on furlough leave?

Yes, employees should have holiday paid as normal. Employers can claim back the cost of an annual leave furlough day (subject to the cap of 80% of salary or £2,500 per month) and the employer must make up the difference between that and the employee’s normal pay. 

Employers should try to plan holiday related issues. You may be faced with a situation when employees return, that they have accumulated a lot of holiday to take in the remainder of your holiday year, which has been shortened by the furlough period. (Subject to any holiday carried forward but this is only delaying the issue.)

You can ask employees to take holiday during the furlough period. They will be paid 100% but the Employer can reclaim 80% and so this may be a cost effective way to use up some holiday entitlement.

 

I have drafted an example notice you may like to consider sending to employees, which can be adapted to your own circumstances.

  

Holiday Pay Notice – Please adapt to your own circumstances

 

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – Holiday Entitlement 

As you know, we agreed to place you on furlough leave under the Government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).

 During your furlough period you are entitled to accrue holiday entitlement. As a business we would like to take steps to manage this holiday entitlement and avoid any remaining holiday entitlement being taken over a shorter period or carried forward.

 When we are all able to return to work, it will be a very challenging time and it will create both financial and operational difficulties at a time when we need to make sure that our business is able to work as efficiently and effectively as possible

 Therefore we would like to propose that the last week of your Furlough period is taken as holiday. This will be paid at 100% of your salary.

 I would be grateful if you could please send me an email to confirm your acceptance.

 Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

 

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE 5 MAY 2020 

(1) SELF EMPLOYMENT INCOME SUPPORT SCHEME  AND  (2) BOUNCE BACK LOANS

 

SELF EMPLOYMENT INCOME SUPPORT SCHEME

The online service will be available from 13 May 2020 but HMRC will tell you the date you can make your claim from.

 The scheme will allow you to claim a taxable grant of 80% of your average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering 3 months, and capped at £7,500 altogether.

 Please complete steps 1 & 2 now, so that you can make a claim quickly and easily when your time comes.

 Unfortunately we are not allowed to make the claim for you but of course, please contact us if you have any questions.

 

 Step 1 - Check if you are eligible to claim

 Please use the HMRC online tool to find out if you are eligible to make a claim.

 https://www.tax.service.gov.uk/self-employment-support/enter-unique-taxpayer-reference

 You will need your: 

  • Self Assessment Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number – 10 digit reference
  • National Insurance number

 If you cannot locate these please call anyone in the office who will be able to supply you with them.

 If you are eligible - You will be given a date that you are able to make a claim from.  Make a note in your diary, calendar & / or phone to remind you.

  

Step 2 – Make Sure You Have a Government Gateway Account Set Up

 If you do have a Gateway Account, please check it by signing in;

 https://www.access.service.gov.uk/login/signin/creds

 You will be required add your contact details.

 If you do not have a Gateway Account, set one up immediately

 https://www.access.service.gov.uk/registration/email

 Once you have completed steps 1 & 2 above make a note of the date that you can make a claim

   

Step 3 - Making The Claim

 When you make your claim you will need your: 

  • Self Assessment UTR
  •  National Insurance number 
  •  Government Gateway user ID and password - if you do not have a user ID, you can create one when you check your eligibility online
  •  Bank account number and sort code you want HMRC to pay the grant into

 After you have claimed, you will be told straight away if your grant is approved. HMRC will pay the grant into your bank account within 6 working days.

__________________________________

 BOUNCE BACK LOANS

So far so good, the claims process has been relatively easy and quick. The only real problem so far is that Banks portals have struggled to cope with demand.

 However, whilst the loans are 100% guaranteed by the Government, the borrower will obviously be required to repay the loan and this will be another monthly outgoing in 12 months time. 

  • Loans of between £2,000 up to a £50,000 or 25% of turnover
  • 100% government guarantee
  • No fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months and no repayments in the first 12 months
  • Loan terms will be up to 6 years
  • 2.5% rate of  interest for the period of the loan
  • Fast track system, the cash should be ‘available within days’ – “For most firms, loans should arrive within 24 hours of approval”

 Lenders are typically restricting applications to their own customers. However HSBC will lend to non HSBC customers as well.

 The lenders accredited for BBLs so far are;

  

BARCLAYS

https://www.barclays.co.uk/business-banking/borrow/bounce-back-loan-scheme/

 You can apply for the Bounce Back Loan scheme in Online Banking.

 

NATWEST & RBS

https://www.business.natwest.com/business/support-centre/service-status/coronavirus.html

https://www.business.rbs.co.uk/business/support-centre/service-status/coronavirus.html

  

SANTANDER

https://www.santandercb.co.uk/bounce-back-loan-scheme-bbls

https://update-details.santander.co.uk/coronavirus/cbilsubl

  

HSBC BANK

https://www.cbil.business.hsbc.co.uk/bbls/6791eb14-173e-4010-86b6-a8fcb1eeeeda

  

LLOYDS

https://businessonboarding.lloydsbank.co.uk/ept/bbls?WT.ac=lloyds-bb-covid_19-bbls_homepage-tile-launch-bbls_application

 

BANK OF SCOTLAND

 

 https://business.bankofscotland.co.uk/business-home/coronavirus/government-lending-schemes.html?WT.ac=bos-bb-covid_19-support-tile-FOM-gov_scheme

 

  

CLYDESDALE BANK

https://secure.cbonline.co.uk/business/coronavirus-information/

  

YORKSHIRE BANK

 https://secure.ybonline.co.uk/business/coronavirus-information/

 

 

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE 16 April 2020

 

Job Retention Scheme (JRS)- Important Change


When the Job Retention Scheme (JRS) was first announced, it included a cut off date whereby employers could only reclaim furlough pay for employees who were on the payroll on 28 February.

 This has now been amended.

 You can now apply the JRS to staff who were on the payroll by 19 March.

 This will help some employers who had taken on new employees between those dates.

  

JRS PORTAL

 The JRS Portal will be launched on 20 April for the first claims.

 It is anticipated that the first payments to employers will be made on 30 April at the earliest. Therefore, given this is a brand new system, we would advise clients to expect to receive payments w/c 4 May.

 I have copied the HMRC guidance below. There are still some questionable areas and I do not think it will become clear until Monday when we can access the portal for the first time.

If Advoco complete your payroll, we will process the JRS reclaim for you. As you can see below, this will involve inputting each individual employees data onto the portal, which is going to be a huge amount of data and will take a lot of time.

I appreciate how important it is for clients to receive this money ASAP and so from Monday ALL Advoco staff will be working on the Portal process until we have completed all of the claims for all of our clients. We are setting up a process and we will be working as quickly as we can.

 We would please  just ask clients to be patient during this time and we will try and respond to general queries as quickly as we can.

 If you complete your own payroll, we will help you with the process.

 

HMRC GUIDANCE

How to claim

As you prepare to make a claim, please note:

  • the online claim service will be launched on GOV.UK on 20‌‌ April 2020 – please do not try to access it before this date as it won’t be available
  • the only way to make a claim is online – the service should be simple to use and any support you need available on GOV.UK; this will include help with calculating the amount you can claim
  • you can make the claim yourself even if you usually use an agent
  • claims will be paid within 6 working days; you should not contact us unless it is absolutely necessary – any queries should be directed to your agent, representative or our webchat service
  • we cannot answer any queries from employees – they will need to raise these with you, as their employer, directly.

 

Information you will need before you make a claim

In addition to the information in our previous email, you will need to have the following before 20‌‌ April 2020:

  • a Government Gateway (GG) ID and password – if you don’t already have a GG account, you can apply for one online, or by going to GOV.UK and searching for 'HMRC services: sign in or register'
  • be enrolled for PAYE online – if you aren’t registered yet, you can do so now, or by going to GOV.UK and searching for 'PAYE Online for employers'
  • the following information for each furloughed employee you will be claiming for:
  1. Name.
  2. National Insurance number.
  3. Claim period and claim amount.
  4. PAYE/employee number (optional).

 if you have fewer than 100 furloughed staff – you will need to input information directly into the system for each employee

  • if you have 100 or more furloughed staff – you will need to upload a file with information for each employee; we will accept the following file types: .xls .xlsx .csv .ods.

 

 

 

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE 14 April 2020

 

  • Support for Employers -  Job Retention Scheme

 

      • I hope to be able to provide you with more information on Thursday or Friday this week
      • The scheme will go live go Monday 20 April, it is currently going through a testing process
      • The first repayments are expected 10 days later, 30 April at the earliest
      • Future claims should be repaid within 6 working days.
      • If we process your payroll we will deal with the portal claim for you and we will be aiming to submit all of our first claims for all clients on 20 April. Hopefully the HMRC portal will cope with the demand
      • If you process your own payroll we will help you with the process. Please ensure that you have set up your HMRC account online and that it is working
      • HMRC is putting together a support pack on how to compile and upload claims, to be released later this week, again details to follow.
  • Jim Harra of HMRC said, “If a million employers try to ring us all on the same day, it will not be possible [to provide] enough resources to handle all of those calls at the same time.”

 

  

  • Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

 

    • Very few successful applications so far – 1.4%
    • Without a personal guarantee for loans under £250,000, the banks are not particularly keen and loan repayments must be ‘affordable’
    • Banks also lack sufficient local managers to deal with the volume of applications, hence most applications are directed to a central call centre / online application.

 

  • Rates Related Relief and Grants

 

    • We are starting to see the grants being paid to clients but it will take time.
    • No client’s claim has been rejected so far.

 

  • Support for the Self Employed -  Self Employed Income Support Scheme

 

    • No further update as yet
    • The grants will be paid in June
    • HMRC will contact all self employed who are eligible and ask them to complete a form, which will  include their bank details.
    • The process will be automatic, HMRC have all the information they need and so the self employed do not need to do anything to make a claim.

 

  • VAT Deferral

 

    • Automatic, you just need to cancel any DD with HMRC
    • Businesses must still file VAT returns on time as normal
    • Can choose to pay the VAT if you wish
    • Refunds will still be repaid by HMRC as normal

 

 

 

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE 9 April 2020

 

HMRC have issued further guidance to agents regarding the JRS Portal system. A general announcement is expected in the near future.

  

The scheme will be ready to launch on 20 April.

Businesses will need the following information on each of their furloughed employees:

  • National Insurance number
  • Salary, National Insurance and pension contribution information that allows business to calculate the claim amount.

HMRC are expecting phone demand to be beyond capacity to offer a normal service. Therefore, the service is designed to be self-serve with guidance in place.

 Please review the latest guidance;

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

  

It is crucial that you have a PAYE Online Gateway account.

 If you process your own payroll, please ensure that you have this setup.  If not start the process immediately, it will take at least 10 days.

 If we process your payroll we will ensure that we have a PAYE gateway account setup for you.

 

 

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE 6 April 2020

 

The main points today are as follows; 

  • CV 19 Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)
  • Rates
  • Furlough scheme guidance on the claims process
  • Latest Government advice on Social distancing and going to work
  • HMRC Q&A On the Job Retention Scheme

  

CV 19 Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)

 I have completed some guidance notes on the loan scheme, which are attached.

 These loans are only applicable in limited circumstances, the banks are having difficulty coping with the number of applications and the removal of the Personal Guarantee for loans under £250,000 will create as many issues as it will solve.

 Please watch the video today which is primarily on the loan scheme and read the guidance attached.

 If you then still think it is suitable for you, please contact us to discuss and we will run through the application process and help to prepare your application.

 

 Rates

 Most Local Authorities have now opened up their processes / portals to claim the Rates Grants.  If you have not claimed your grant yet or you have any questions, please send us a copy of your most recent rates bill and we will help you.

 

Furlough scheme guidance on the claims process

There has been some more guidance on the scheme, in particular how to claim.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

 It is crucial that you have a PAYE Online Gateway account. If you process your own payroll, please ensure that you have this setup. If not start the process immediately, it will take at least 10 days.

 If we process your payroll we will ensure that we have a PAYE gateway account setup for you.

  

Latest Government advice on Social distancing and going to work

 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others?fbclid=IwAR3xhkbr6SLQfybHrbW4B4Re4LNQfSfAqchYD4qVNtvTNy-5Yx06DsnnbdY#going-to-work

 Who Can / Should Work?

 Further to the Secretary of State for Business, Rt Hon Alok Sharma, letter to the Construction industry on 31 March, Nadhim Zahawi Under Secretary of State for Business, also wrote an article in the Telegraph.

 There is still a lot of confusion about who can / should go to work. Quite rightly public awareness is very much focussed on the core message, 'stay home, protect the NHS, save Lives.'

 However the Business department of the Government are also sending out alternative messages. This is putting many business owners in a very difficult position and greater clarity, made publicly, would be helpful.

 There is a recent press article by Nadhim Zahawi - Under Secretary of State for Business - Stop sniping at businesses - they're the ones that will get us back on our feet after this

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2020/03/29/stop-sniping-businesses-ones-will-get-us-back-feet/?fbclid=IwAR3qTfnYf7bDbWj23q8NcrXHzwGfX0O184WcFjxmllN43YULmZ37H-wEMP0

 

 HMRC Q&A On the Job Retention Scheme

There is a Q&A summary from HMRC in the 'Guides' section.

 

 

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE 2 April 2020

 

The information coming out now is starting to slow up and so I may not do daily updates unless, there is something significant.

 If anyone has any topic that they would like me to try and cover in more detail, please let me know.

 I would now strongly recommend that everyone completes the cashflow forecasts on our website.

 As we are all getting more accustomed to staying at home, hopefully we can all find some time to look at cashflow.  Cashflow will be absolutely paramount for the remainder of year, at least.

 Topics  for today; 

  • Rates
  • Banks – Business Interruption loan scheme
  • JRS for Contingent Workers – Freelancers
  • Employers – Advice on Health & Safety – Risk Assessment (Thanks again Jim Mussenden)

  

Rates

Our local area, DCC, launched a portal yesterday to claim the rates grants.

If you have a commercial property, find your rates bill, you may be entitled to a grant. I have attached our rates guides FYI. Please email us a copy of the your rates bill.

I believe that most Local Authorities have now either set up a portal to claim, or sent our letters to rates payers to make the claim.

 The DCC  portal was relatively straight forward but I have attached a basic how to guide for the DCC portal, which will be similar for most Local Authorities

 We would recommend clients try and make the claim, it takes 5 minutes but please ask if you have any questions. You will need your recent rates bill to complete it.

 Please email us a copy of your latest rates bill as well.

 

 Banks – Business Interruption loan scheme 

Banks are getting a bit of stick at the moment because the application process sis taking a long time and they have been encouraged to support businesses.

 This is a difficult one and I am going to do a separate guide and a video on this subject.

 If you have applied, you do just have to be patient. The banks are overwhelmed and most are processing applications from a  week ago.

 There is nothing we can do to speed it up, sorry.

 

JRS for Contingent Workers - Freelancers

There has been a recent announcement to include Contingent Workers ie Freelancers in the JRS.  We always thought they were included anyway but this does clarify it.

 I have attached the guidance on this.

 

Employers – Health & Safety Advice – Risk Assessments

 

Massive thank you to Jim Mussenden again who has sent me the following;

 In relation to Health and Safety you may wish to send out this link that contains lots of useful information around the legal position and what employers need to consider and think about when undertaking risk assessments as this situation unfolds.

 

https://www.shponline.co.uk/asia/coronavirus-advice-for-employers/

  Please remember to show your support for the NHS at 8pm later if you can. They are doing an incredible job for us all. Thank you to everyone at the NHS and other, related, essential services.

  

 

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE 31 MARCH 2020

 

There have been no significant new announcements in the last few days and so I thought I would just try and summarise the main support packages that have been announced so far.

There are still areas that are not clear and need more clarification.

 In these difficult and rapidly changing times, please document the decisions that you make. We have to do the best we can at the moment.

 If you qualify for any of these schemes below and you have any questions or you have concerns regarding your business at all, please call us, we are still working (mostly remotely).

 All clients have various points of contact within the office and all of the staff are fully briefed on all of these areas.

 We will do all that we can to help clients get through this and out the other side.

 I have attached all of our main documents and guides again, just in case you have not got anything.

 If your business is now closed, you will probably feel very strange, businesses are very time consuming. They are very personal and we are all rightly very proud of our businesses. If you are finding this difficult, please check out our Wellbeing and Mental Health guidance, kindly provided by Jim Mussenden.

Try and use this time to rechange your batteries and plan how your business will come back better and stronger once we come out the other side of this, whatever that may look like.

 Cashflow will be crucial and whilst we have short term ‘emergency’ cashflow issues to consider at the moment, experience indicates that we will also have longer term cashflow issues when our businesses restart as we have to pay out for wages and supplies etc before we can invoice and get paid.

  

Summary of the Main Guidance and Reliefs available so far; 

  • Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme -  more details will follow on this
  • Rates Related Relief and Grants (see separate detailed guidance and video on our website)  
  • Support for Employers, including the Job Retention Scheme (see separate detailed guidance and video on our website)
  • Support for the Self Employed, including the Self Employed Income Support Scheme (see separate detailed guidance and video on our website)
  • VAT Deferral (see separate detailed guidance on our website)
  • Income Tax Deferral 
  • HMRC Time To Pay 
  • Support for Directors, lack thereof, so far (see separate detailed guidance and video on our website)

 Please look at our guides and videos on the website.

 Cashflow is going to be increasingly important now and we have put cashflow templates, both personal and business on our website.

  

  • Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

Most banks are actually focussing on shorter term measures initially, like capital repayment holidays, credit cards and shorter term temporary overdrafts.

 Over the next week or 2 we will start looking at applying for these loans for clients who need them. We will need to submit the latest accounts, up to date management information (year to date figures) and a forecast, attempting to estimate the level of borrowing required.

The level of borrowing is likely to be around 3 months of expenditure, for expenditure items that are not covered by other support schemes ie if you can claim the Job Retention Scheme funding, the bank are unlikely to provide a loan to cover those wages costs as well.

Initially these loans were going to require Personal Guarantees (PG) from the borrower but the main banks have recently announced this will not be a requirement for loans under £250,000.

 However the banks have to lend money ‘responsibly’ and they must be confident that it will be repaid. Therefore any lending will be subject to scrutiny, it will only be for a reasonable amount of money and it will need to be serviceable.

 The banks will look at historical profit levels to check that the loan repayment will be affordable and the business can ‘service’ (repay) that level of monthly outgoing.

 The application process varies from bank to bank but we will help clients with this 

 

  • Rates Related Relief and Grants (see separate detailed guidance and video on our website)

 I have completed a separate guide and a video on this which are on our website.

 The process will vary for each Local Authority.

 Your LA will contact you (if they have not already) to advise what the process will be and we can then assist you with this.

             If you own or rent a commercial building, you should have recently received a rates bill. It may not be correct because of recent changes.

             We are asking all of our clients to email us a copy of their rates bill, so that we can advise what scheme may / may not apply.

 If you do not have your managers email, please send your rates bill to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

   

  • Support for Employers, including the Job Retention Scheme (see separate detailed guidance and video on our website)

I have completed a separate guide and a video on this which are on our website.

 This scheme enable employers to Furlough staff which basically means, to lay off staff temporarily. Employers can then pay employees 80% of their normal wages.

 You do not have to be shut or forcibly closed down to utilise this scheme.

 Furloughing relates to individual employees and so you can have some employees who have been furloughed and some who have not.

 Employers will be able to reclaim 100% of the gross payroll cost back from HMRC, for furloughed employees,  using an online portal. (Gross payroll cost includes Gross pay, Employers NIC and Employers Pension contributions)

 The portal will not be ready until at least Mid-April and so this does present Employers with a cashflow issue of paying wages out, in advance of being refunded.

Employers will continue to process payroll as normal, except that they have to adjust the employees gross pay to 80% of normal pay, if they have been furloughed before starting the payroll calculations.

 It is the Gross pay that is adjusted by 80%.

 The reclaim process is totally separate from the normal payroll process and it will be completed through an online portal, that HMRC are currently in the process of setting up. We believe that employers will have to register to use this portal.

If we complete your payroll we will do all of this for our clients.

If you are a client of Advoco and you complete your own payroll, we will help you with the processes.

  

  • Support for the Self Employed, including the Self Employed Income Support Scheme - SEISS (see separate detailed guidance and video on our website)

 I have completed a separate guide and a video on this which are on our website.

 The SEISS was the most recent scheme announced.

 We are sending all of our self employed clients a calculation based on the guidance issued so far about what you can expect to receive.

 To qualify you must have submitted a self-assessment tax return for the 18/19 tax year.

 The grants (not repayable but they are taxable income) for the self-employed will not be paid until June and so they will have a cashflow issue until then.

 HMRC will contact the self-employed, so please sit tight, you do not need to do anything at the moment.

 We will help our self employed clients claim the grants.

  

  • VAT Deferral (see separate detailed guidance on our website)

The VAT payment deferral scheme is automatic, no application is required

 There will be no VAT payments required from now until end of June.  All businesses will get 1 VAT payment deferred.

 For most businesses this will affect the VAT returns for the quarters ending February, March and April.

 Any VAT deferred will be repaid by the end of March 2021, with no penalties or interest

 This will give 9 months to make up the quarters payment that has been deferred from July 2020 to March 2021.

 Please cancel your DD to HMRC for VAT.

 You can still pay your VAT normally if you want too.

 You still need to file your VAT returns during this period.

   

  • Income Tax Deferral  

For Income Tax Self-Assessment, payments due on the 31 July 2020 may be deferred until 31 January 2021.

 You are eligible if you are due to pay your second self-assessment payment on account on 31 July. You do not need to be self-employed to be eligible for the deferment.

This is an automatic offer with no applications required. No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged if you defer payment until January 2021.

The deferment is optional. If you are still able to pay your second payment on account on 31 July you should do so.

  

  • HMRC Time To Pay 

 A dedicated helpline has been set up to help businesses and self-employed individuals in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities receive support with their tax affairs.

 The number is 0800 0159 559

 However we are experiencing massive delays getting through to them at the moment.

 Our advice is to still defer any tax payments even if we cannot get it agreed over the phone with HMRC.

  

  • Support for Directors, lack thereof, so far (see separate detailed guidance and video on our website)

 I have completed a separate guide and a video on this which are on our website.

 The Self Employed Scheme above has resulted in certain groups being ‘left out’ including Landlords, newly self-employed and Company Directors.

 Company Directors can be furloughed like other employees.

 However most Company Directors usually take a small basic salary through the PAYE scheme and so they will only receive 80% funding for this.

 In such difficult, fast moving times, we cannot have a totally fair system. However if we really are ‘all in this together’ why is there such a disparity for Small Business Company Directors, who were once considered the backbone of the UK economy?

 These business will contribute significantly to the future prosperity of our country and will pay their share of taxes, to repay the debt.

Business owners have been asked to help the Government to administer a huge new benefits system, as Employers, the JRS, to support employees.

 Many Business Owners will suffer severe financial losses during these difficult times and whilst obviously it is a ‘Health over Wealth’ situation, we need strong businesses in future to repay the debt that we are building up.

https://www.change.org/p/uk-parliament-small-ltd-company-directors-to-get-government-support-like-the-employed-and-self-employed/psf/promote_or_share?guest=new&short_display_name=alan&recruiter=false&source_location=react-fe

 

Just to reiterate;

 If you qualify for any of these schemes above and you have any questions or you have concerns regarding your business at all, please call us, we are still working (remotely).

 All clients have various points of contact within the office and all of the staff are fully briefed on all of these areas.

 We will do all that we can to help clients get through this and out the other side.

 

 

 

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE 30 MARCH 2020

 

All  of our Guidance Notes have been updated over the weekend.

 Summary of the Main Guidance and Reliefs available so far; 

  • Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme – More details to follow
  • Rates Related Relief and Grants (see separate detailed guidance and video on our website)
  • Support for Employers, including the Job Retention Scheme (see separate detailed guidance and video on our website)
  • Support for the Self Employed, including the Self Employed Income Support Scheme (see separate detailed guidance and video on our website)
  • VAT Deferral (see separate detailed guidance on our website)
  • Income Tax Deferral
  • HMRC Time To Pay
  • Support for Directors, lack thereof, so far (see separate detailed guidance and video on our website)
  • Wellbeing and Mental Health (see separate detailed guidance on our website)

Please have a read of these, things are changing quickly as we get new announcements and new information.

Please take a look at the videos on our website, there will be a couple of news ones to day on how to practically process the payroll (I have attached a spreadsheet example) and on the rates related items (Finally!)

Once you have read all of the guides that apply to you and you have watched the videos please send us details of any questions. Clients can send an email and call us but please try to watch the videos and read the guides first because these will cover a lot of general questions.

We also have the WhatsApp groups for general Q’s as wel, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you are interested in joining.

Mortgage Lenders

For those of you looking to contact your mortgage lender, Martin Lewis has put together a very good summary below and more Lenders are offering an online / email system

https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/2020/03/uk-coronavirus-help-and-your-rights/#mortgagepaymentholiday

 We have heard most if not all lenders have been helpful, in line with the 'recommendation' of the Government

 

 

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE 28 MARCH 2020

 

 

COMPANY DIRECTORS – LACK OF SUPPORT?

The support offered to Company Directors so far, is restricted to a claim under the Job Retention Scheme (JRS). Many Directors take a small basic salary and the remainder of their remuneration as dividends. This is perfectly legal. It is slightly more tax / NIC advantageous but that advantage narrowed significantly with the introduction of the Dividend Tax. Many business owners are advised to operate through a Limited Company for the protection of Limited Liability that it provides.

Under the schemes announced so far, Employees will get 80% of their wages covered by the JRS and they will continue to accrue holiday entitlement. The Self Employed can made a claim under the Self Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS). Great news.

Business owners have been asked to help the Government to administer a huge new benefits system, as Employers, the JRS, to support employees.

Many Business Owners will suffer severe financial losses during these difficult times and whilst obviously it is a ‘Health over Wealth’ situation, we need strong businesses in future to repay the debt that we are building up.

In such difficult, fast moving times, we cannot have a totally fair system. However if we really are ‘all in this together’ why is there such a disparity for Small Business Company Directors, who were once considered the backbone of the UK economy?

These business will contribute significantly to the future prosperity of our country and will pay their share of taxes, to repay the debt.

If you agree, please consider signing the petition below.

HERE

 

 

 

 

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE 27 MARCH 2020

 

 

 

I hope that you are all safe and well.

 

Big announcement last night from the Chancellor, mainly about a scheme to help the self-employed. The detail is attached and there is a general overview below. Please read the overview below first and then if this applies to you, please read the detail attached. Then watch the video on our website or Facebook and then if you still have questions please ask away but can I please ask that you read and watch first.

 

I have a couple of video meetings to attend now to try and gather further information on all the recent announcements and so I will not be free to  answer any questions until at least 11 am today.

 

 

Other matters for everyone;

 

 

WhatsApp Groups -  some great questions yesterday thank you. A couple of points;

 

            There are a number of groups, if possible try and answer the Q in the right group so that it helps everyone else who is also thinking the same

 

            Please try and avoid general chat – whilst we hope to be friendly, these groups are a means of asking Q’s.

 

            Also if the answers can come for Advoco please. I appreciate people are trying to help by answering questions but there is still a lot of misinformation out there and a lack of detail. It is also not an appropriate platform for general ‘opinion’ in these difficult times

           

 

Other Updates - I am desperately trying to do updates on Rates, Job retention Scheme and a FAQ’s. Please be patient and I will get there ASAP

 

 

 

SELF EMPLOYED

 

Read the Summary below and if you think this applies, print the guide attached for full details. Watch the video on the website or on  Facebook. Once you have done that, if you have any questions please ask but please read the detail and watch the video first because that will answer a lot of questions.

 

We expect to receive more detail about this scheme and so there are still a lot of questions following the details released last night.

 

We do not as yet have all of the answers, this is a very difficult and fast moving situation.

 

The SEISS scheme is relatively simple and along with the Job Retention Scheme for Employees, it will help a large % of the working population.

 

However that simplicity does result in an uneven / unfair situation for many in my opinion but it is a clearly a very difficult situation for them to deal with.

 

 

 

Directors;

 

If you are a Director of Limited Company, paying salary and dividends, the Chancellor made it clear that you are not self-employed and you will not get any support towards the dividends that you take.

 

However Directors will be covered by the Job Retention Scheme (JRS) if you are operating a salary through the PAYE scheme. Most Directors take a small, tax / NIC efficient level of salary and this will be covered by the JRS, if the Director is furloughed.

 

SORRY

 

  

Landlords;

 

There were no provisions at all for landlords.

 

SORRY

 

  

Self Employed –  

 

If you are self-employed (we will be contacting all of our self-employed clients ASAP), if your income has been affected, you will be entitled to receive a grant under this scheme

 

It is a grant, not a loan, it is not repayable but it will be included in your Accounts and it will be liable to Tax and NIC.

 

The Grant will not come through until June. You will need to find a way to support your cashflow in the interim period.

 

This scheme does not cover those trading through a Limited Company. Directors will need to claim under the Job Retention Scheme for their PAYE based salary, excluding dividends.

 

If you have recently become self-employed and did not submit a 2018/19 tax return you are not covered by this scheme. You will need to contact the Universal Credit system.

 

 

If your average trading profits exceed £50,000 you will get £0.

 

To qualify half of your income must have come from self-employment.

 

If you started self-employment after 06 April 2019 then it sadly appears you won’t qualify. You will need to contact Universal Credit and this is moving to an online process because the phonelines cannot cope.

 

 

https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit

 

 

The grant will cover the months March, April and May

 

You do not need to do anything. HMRC will contact you and they ask you to complete a form online if eligible according to their information. We will help our clients with this.

 

We will contact all of our self-employed clients with details of their trading profits on what the grant will be based upon and our calculation of what we think that you will be entitled to ASAP but I cannot give you a timescale.

 

We are clearly drowning in questions and my team are working around the clock so please stick with us.

 

All clients are important but this is all new to us as well and it takes time to set up our systems.

 

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE 26 MARCH 2020

            

  • WhatsApp Groups
  • Rates
  • Self Employed
  • Personal cashflow
  • Job Retention Scheme
  • Summary of the Main Reliefs Announced So far

  

None of this information is precious or restricted and this is definitely not a sales pitch. We need to get as much information out, to as many as we can, as quickly as we can, please.

  

WhatsApp Groups

 We have 5 WhatsApp groups running now to ask questions on;

    1. General
    2. VAT
    3. Employers & JRS
    4. Self Employed
    5. Rates

You can join any, or all of the groups. Click on the invites on our website

http://advocouk.com/covid-19/join-our-whatsapp-groups

 Please join the groups of interest to you, ask questions and I will answer them ASAP. I will use these as a basis for a FAQ sheet as well.

 

Rates 

This is causing a lot of confusion and I believe there may be some more guidance on rates, being released. I will be doing a video specifically on Rates later today, which will be on the website later.

We believe that any rates reliefs will be a relatively automatic process but if your business qualifies for a grant, you will probably need to submit some information, including bank details, to your Local Authority, probably by a secure portal.

Please do not give anyone your bank details over the phone, scammers are already trying to take advantage.

Please have a look at our ‘current’ guidance at Rates which I have copied and pasted to the end of this, but this will probably be updated later.

 

 Self Employed 

So sorry for the delay on this but the Chancellor is speaking today on this subject, presumably in the early evening slot.

 Just to confirm, we do not have any detailed guidance as yet for the self employed or Company Directors or property landlords.

 The administration to support the self employed is very difficult and I think this is the main reason why any announcement has been delayed.

The Universal Credit helpline has been drowning in calls. At one point there were reportedly 76,000 in the queue.

 

Personal Cashflow

I would now recommend that everyone completes a list of their income and expenditure, if you have not already done so.

Accountants love a budget / cashflow but it not boring in these circumstances, it is essential that we all have an understanding of what is coming in, going out and when.

 There will be a spreadsheet available on our website later today called PERSONAL CASHFLOW. This will be a spreadsheet but use it as a template if you do not like spreadsheets and use a pen and paper instead.

 If you have not done this before, you need to prepare first.

Get as much paperwork together as you can, so all of your bills, invoices etc. Print or download your last 3 months bank statements and use these as a guide.

 Find somewhere quiet and you will need at least an hour in my experience.

 Use the excel sheet or your paper, to just put your outgoings in date order, using previous months bank statement as a guide. Complete everything you can as best you can, this will not be perfect. Highlight or circle anything that is uncertain.

 Depending on your opening bank balance and any reserves that you may have, the timing of any income that you may be getting in future, this cashflow should help show when you may have a personal cashflow issue.

 You need that information first before you can think about what to do about it.

  

Employers – Job Retention Scheme - JRS

 Myth – “We have to be closed down by the Government to claim back employee wages under the scheme. “      Total Nonsense.

 Please, if it is not safe to go to work, send your staff home.

All Employers can claim employee wages back under the JRS. You do not have to wait to be shutdown by the Government or for the country to be put on total lockdown.

 Health has to be the priority now more than ever.

 If an Employer advises staff to go home and they are not working, the Employer can put the employees onto ‘Furloughed’ status (we have template letters that you can email to staff)

Once staff are Furloughed, the Employer will be able to claim 80% of their wages for those employees not working, up to a maximum of £2,500 pm, if you keep the staff on the payroll.

 The scheme applies to all employers and it is for all employees under the PAYE system. It will apply even if employers have laid staff off since 1 March.

 This assistance will be a grant (not a loan) from HMRC to cover wages.

 It is not a loan but it will need to be claimed and this will be through the PAYE system.

 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses#support-for-businesses-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

 There are still many questions to be answered about this scheme, for example, what does not working mean.

 As soon as we have the detail we will provide an update.

 

Summary of the Main Reliefs Announced So far

I have attached a summary of the main reliefs attached so far and also various links below.

Please use these links, they are all very useful and also have a look at our overview

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses#support-for-businesses-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

 

https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-support/

 

https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/faqs/

 

CRORONAVIRUS UPDATE 24 MARCH 2020

 

Last night saw a very historic announcement from Boris, which included closing many more businesses for 3 weeks initially, a full list below;

 https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/874732/230320_-_Revised_guidance_note_-_finalVF.pdf

 We have also now got some detail on the help that will become available for the self employed and there is a video on our website and Facebook and we have updated our self employed guide on our website as well.

 None of this information is restricted, please share with your friends and family, anyone who will benefit.

 

Should We / Can We Stay Open?

 

Some businesses will have to stay open if they provide essential services or if they are linked to essential services. The NHS and MOD for example are essential services and if you are supplying or supporting them, you may also be essential. The full list is available at the link below and I have copied and pasted these at the end of the notes.

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision

 If you can stay open you need to consider staffing requirements carefully.

 If you have any staff in the at risk categories, or they should be shielded, or they are in contact with anyone in those groups, they should really not come to work and they only can if they travel alone and they are working alone.

 These staff should be Furloughed, put on short term lay off but not being made redundant. Please see our guidance on the Job Retention Scheme.

 Then consider your remaining pool of staff and use some form of selection criteria to decide who can continue to work to help you provide your essential services.

 

Below is a list of retailers that will be allowed to stay open:

Supermarkets and other food shops Pharmacies Petrol stations Newsagents Bicycle shops Home and hardware stores Laundrettes and dry cleaners Garages Pet shops Post Offices Banks

Businesses will still be able to take online orders and deliver items to people's homes.

 

Looking at the partial lockdown, many of our clients will now be closing.

 If you are closing your business this will be a very difficult time. Your business is very personal to you and you probably spend more time in your business than anything else in your life.

 You will be worrying about finances, your staff, your customers and suppliers, as well as your friends and family. This is all very natural, we are all in the same boat, you are not alone.

 

If you have had to close and your staff are ‘not working’ they can be laid off temporarily, without being made redundant. This is termed, ‘Furloughed’ You are entitled to reclaim 80% of employees pay if they have been Furloughed.

 We will be sending clients a letter that they can send to staff to confirm they have been furloughed. These are unprecedented times but we still need to try and comply with Employment Law as much as possible. Obviously you cannot call staff meetings and so we think a letter is the best we can do in the circumstances.

 We would recommend that you try and let people know that you are closed temporarily and that you will be back ASAP and in the meantime they can contact you.

 Once you have done all of the essential temporary close down measures needed, take a step back. It has been a very chaotic couple of weeks. Your health and wellbeing and those around you, is more crucial than ever in difficult times. Recharge your batteries.

 You will then be in a much better frame of mind to consider the future of the business. We undoubtedly have difficult times ahead so use the time wisely so that you can position your business as well as possible.

 Look at the guides on our website, make a note of any questions that you have as you go through them and send us an email or call us. We are still very contactable.

  • Look at your business and your personal cashflow (or do a cashflow if you have not yet). There will be a template on our website. Identify when a cashflow problem hits.
  • Complete a personal income and expenditure plan, use your last 3 months bank statements.
  • Make a plan – what are you going to do when you can open again. We do not know when this will be but prepare. The plan can always be adapted.
  • Look at your business plan or do one. Review it, refresh it.
  • If you need to apply for any funding all of the above documents will be useful and will ensure we can approach lenders as well prepared as possible.

  

Essential Services

Health and social care

This includes but is not limited to doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff including volunteers; the support and specialist staff required to maintain the UK’s health and social care sector; those working as part of the health and social care supply chain, including producers and distributers of medicines and medical and personal protective equipment.

 Education and childcare

This includes childcare, support and teaching staff, social workers and those specialist education professionals who must remain active during the COVID-19 response to deliver this approach.

Key public services

This includes those essential to the running of the justice system, religious staff, charities and workers delivering key frontline services, those responsible for the management of the deceased, and journalists and broadcasters who are providing public service broadcasting.

 Local and national government

This only includes those administrative occupations essential to the effective delivery of the COVID-19 response, or delivering essential public services, such as the payment of benefits, including in government agencies and arms length bodies.

 Food and other necessary goods

This includes those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery, as well as those essential to the provision of other key goods (for example hygienic and veterinary medicines).

 Public safety and national security

This includes police and support staff, Ministry of Defence civilians, contractor and armed forces personnel (those critical to the delivery of key defence and national security outputs and essential to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic), fire and rescue service employees (including support staff), National Crime Agency staff, those maintaining border security, prison and probation staff and other national security roles, including those overseas.

Transport

This includes those who will keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the COVID-19 response, including those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass.

 Utilities, communication and financial services

This includes staff needed for essential financial services provision (including but not limited to workers in banks, building societies and financial market infrastructure), the oil, gas, electricity and water sectors (including sewerage), information technology and data infrastructure sector and primary industry supplies to continue during the COVID-19 response, as well as key staff working in the civil nuclear, chemicals, telecommunications (including but not limited to network operations, field engineering, call centre staff, IT and data infrastructure, 999 and 111 critical services), postal services and delivery, payments providers and waste disposal sectors.

  

Cashflow

Cashflow is going to be even more crucial than ever during this uncertain period. We recommend that our clients start by making an initial cashflow forecast for the next month. It does not need to be sophisticated. 

Something simple and understandable is better than nothing or something too complex. Make notes of any assumptions. Use the last months bank statement as a guide to the typical transactions and the timing of them. 

There will be a spreadsheet template on our website.

  • Consider spreading payments initially and focus on your largest outgoings first, contact them and ask if they can help
  • Contact banks and ask for a short term loan repayment holiday, this will extend the term of the loan
  • Contact other finance providers and ask for a short term loan repayment holiday
  • Consider deferring tax payments
  • Contact the Local Authority about grants and hardship funds
  • Contact the Business Support Line – 03004563565
  • Contact your insurer and see if you have any insurance cover
  • If you are Self employed contact JobCentre Plus about the assistance they may be able to receive

 

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE 21 MARCH 2020

The Job Retention scheme was the big announcement yesterday.

 There are still some questions which will hopefully become clearer over the weekend.

 Can you please send wendy email addresses of bookkeepers, bankers etc anyone who you think may benefit from our updates.

Attached is a guide for the Job Retention Scheme which was the biggest announcement last night.

READ MORE HERE

The full package of measures, announced so far to support businesses include;

  • a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  • deferring VAT and Income Tax payments
  • a Statutory Sick Pay relief package for SMEs
  • a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England
  • small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
  • grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank
  • a new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans
  • the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19

 

Other Measures Announced on 20 March;

Self-employed will able to access universal credit, up to the value of statutory sick pay.

 Tax self assessment payment normally due on 31 July 2020 will be deferred until January 2021

There will be £1bn support for renters.

 

Business Interruption Loans

 These will Interest free for 12 months and we can  start to apply on Monday. We believe that the process will be as follows; 

    • Last years annual accounts
    • Current up to date Management Information
    • Forecast of the level of funding  required

  

VAT Payments

 VAT payment deferral scheme – Automatic, no application required

 No VAT payments from now until end of July.

 Any VAT deferred will be repaid by the end of March 2021, with no penalties or interest

 This will give 8 months to make up the quarters payment that has been deferred from August 2020 to March 2021.

 

Other announcements on 20 March included;

 Cafes, pubs and restaurants must close from Friday night (20/3), except for take-away food.

 Night clubs, theatres, cinemas, gyms and leisure centres have also been asked to close "as soon as they reasonably can". 

 Crucially they did not include shops.

Boris Johnson said, 'We'll stand by businesses if you will stand behind your workers.’

 Other words used included

 Unprecedented,      All in it together,         Colossal Intervention ……….

  The announcements are a clear indication that Employers should try to avoid making staff redundant. The Government are paying a grant of 80% of wages up to £2500 pm for 3 months. This will give employers a lot of comfort and now you can look at making more medium term decisions.

 

This is all very welcome, it does provide a lot of businesses with a much better platform

and helps with employment costs and follows the measures for the Rates system. This will mitigate the  huge redundancies which were looming imminently next week before these measures were announced.

 However businesses have lots of other outgoings to consider as well and please still remember that ultimately cashflow will be king over the coming months.

 There is still a lot more help needed for the self employed and we hope that this will come through in further announcements next week.

Hopefully this indicates that they believe that this virus is causing a short term shock to the economy and they want businesses to be able to adhere to the medical advice but when we can all return to ‘normal’, businesses will be in a position to fire back up and trade at as close to capacity, as quickly as possible. This will help the economy to recover as quickly as possible.

  

Our Dial In Call Last Night

Thank you for all those that dialled in and apologies if you could not get through.

Thank you to Steve Gill and Anna-Maria Geare for their banking advice and also to Gill Fribbance (Nantes Solicitors for her Employment Law advice). I would also like to thank Geoff Timms of Comms UK for his advice about, laptops etc and alerting us to the banking scammers who are unbelievably taking advantage of this situation.

Honestly I really did not anticipate that many people would dial in but it does indicate the level of concern that we are all feeling at the moment. We are all in the same boat which is hopefully a little reassuring.

Apologies for some of the issues on the call with sound etc. I only thought about doing a call on Thursday night, when I was hopeful that the Chancellor was going to make some positive announcements. We were still testing at 4pm!

I wanted to be able to get the information from the Chancellor across ASAP and crucially before the weekend. We have had a lot of discussions with clients this week and a lot were heading towards considering redundancies over the weekend.

We do not have all of the answers but hopefully we cleared up some issues and it gave some of you a bit of breathing space and a slightly easier weekend.

I am looking at ways to improve our general communication with clients. We want to speak to all of you every day but that is impossible. We are also preparing for a lockdown.

I am looking at videos or webinars to provide information for clients (and non-clients, please share this to whoever you feel may benefit). You can then look at these in your own time and I can then follow this up with group calls. I will look to split the calls into groups, so that we have less people on each call.

If we do group calls in the future can I respectfully ask that you try and take the call in a quiet room away from background noises, TV’s and other devices which may create interference.

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE 20/03/2020

Most of the advice from Government is not definitive at the moment and Businesses may have to make decisions quickly.

 So our best advice to clients is that you have to take whatever measures that you feel are required to get you through as best you can.

 As long as you are fair and reasonable and you make sensible decisions that do not contradict rules and guidelines, we can help you argue why you took a decision now, at a later date.

 

 Advoco will continue to do our best to provide clients with as much up to date information as we can and we appreciate that this is a very challenging time.

 We do not have all of the answers, but we will do our best. We will give our best advice as practically and honestly as we can, in plain English.

 Please review our Website and Facebook pages for general updates. We will try to do our best with individual enquiries but please look at these resources for general information.

 We have outlined what we do know for sure at the moment, but as yet we do not have some of the detail.

 

 On 17 March the government announced 

  • £330 Billion of business loans     (repayable)
  • £20 Billion of aid    (not repayable)
  • More Grants and further Business rates relief for certain types of businesses
  • Mortgage holidays
  • The minimum income floor for Universal Credit for the self employed has been suspended.

 

 They said they will do whatever it takes and there will be more announcements in the coming days and they  are looking to develop new forms of employment support. This was a very positive message, but there is very little detail.

 

 In a separate announcement they have also delayed the new IR35 rules for a year. Whilst this is positive, most businesses have already prepared for the changes.

   

There is some general guidance from the Government

 https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-employees-employers-and-businesses

 Contact the Business Support Line – 03004563565

 

Cashflow

 Cashflow is going to be even more crucial than ever during this uncertain period. We recommend that our clients start by making an initial cashflow forecast for the next month.  It does not need to be sophisticated.

 Something simple and understandable is better than nothing or something too complex.  Make notes of any assumptions. Use the last months bank statement as a guide to the typical transactions and the timing of them.

 We recommend the following headings

 

Date                Description      Income            Expenditure                 £ - Running Balance

 

 If you can see a cashflow issue, look at ways to alleviate this in the short term by spreading payments and / or other income source but crucially not loans at this first stage 

  • Focus on your largest outgoings first, contact them and ask if they can help
  • Contact banks and ask for a short term loan repayment holiday, this will extend the term of the loan
  • Contact other finance providers and ask for a short term loan repayment holiday
  • Consider deferring tax payments
  • Contact the Local Authority about grants and hardship funds
  • Contact the Business Support Line – 03004563565
  • Contact your insurer and see if you have any insurance cover
  • If you are Self employed contact JobCentre  Plus about the assistance they may be able to receive

 

CONTACT ADVOCO

 

The situation is changing very quickly. Businesses need some time to make well informed decisions and these measures may help to give you some breathing space.

 The longer term solution may be a Business interruption loan.

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE

CORONAVIRUS - SOME REASSURANCE BASED ON HISTORY - PLEASE READ MORE HERE

 

Most of the advice from Government is not definitive at the moment and Businesses may have to make decisions quickly.

 So our best advice to clients is that you have to take whatever measures that you feel are required to get you through as best you can.

 As long as you are fair and reasonable and you make sensible decisions that do not contradict rules and guidelines, we can help you argue why you took a decision at that point at a later date.

 

 Advoco will continue to do our best to provide clients with as much up to date information as we can and we appreciate that this is a very challenging time.

 We do not have all of the answers but we will do our best. We will give our best advice as practically and honestly as we can, in plain English.

 Please review our Website and Facebook pages for general updates. We will try to do our best with individual enquiries but please look at these resources for general information.

 We have outlined what we do know for sure at the moment, but as yet we do not have some of the detail.

 Last night the government announced 

  • £330 Billion of business loans     (repayable)
  • £20 Billion of aid     (not repayable)
  • More Grants and further Business rates relief for certain types of businesses
  • Mortgage holidays
  • The minimum income floor for Universal Credit for the self employed has been suspended.

  

They said they will do whatever it takes and there will be more announcements in the coming days and they  are looking to develop new forms of employment support. This was a very positive message, but there is very little detail.

In a separate announcement they have also delayed the new IR35 rules for a year. Whilst this is positive, most businesses have already prepared for the changes.

  

There is some general guidance from the Government 

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-employees-employers-and-businesses

Contact the Business Support Line – 03004563565


Cashflow

 Cashflow is going to be even more crucial than ever during this uncertain period. We recommend that our clients start by making an initial cashflow forecast for the next month.  It does not need to be sophisticated.

 Something simple and understandable is better than nothing or something too complex.  Make notes of any assumptions. Use the last months bank statement as a guide to the typical transactions and the timing of them.

 We recommend the following headings

  

Date                Description      Income            Expenditure                 £ - Running Balance

  

If you can see a cashflow issue, look at ways to alleviate this in the short term by spreading payments and / or other income source but crucially not loans at this first stage 

  • Focus on your largest outgoings first, contact them and ask if they can help
  • Contact banks and ask for a short term loan repayment holiday, this will extend the term of the loan
  • Contact other finance providers and ask for a short term loan repayment holiday
  • Consider deferring tax payments
  • Contact the Local Authority about grants and hardship funds
  • Contact the Business Support Line – 03004563565
  • Contact your insurer and see if you have any insurance cover
  • If you are Self employed contact JobCentre  Plus about the assistance they may be able to receive

 

CONTACT ADVOCO 

The situation is changing very quickly. Businesses need some time to make well informed decisions and these measures may help to give you some breathing space.

The longer term solution may be a Business interruption loan.

The Government has announced a package of Business Interruption loans

 https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/supporting-business-loans-enterprise-finance-guarantee/

 More detail later in this guide

 We can help you apply for these, but the cashflow forecast above will be the starting point.

 

Defer Your Tax Payments

 The Government has announced a Tax Helpline

 A dedicated helpline has been set up to help businesses and self-employed individuals in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities receive support with their tax affairs.

 We can help you approach HMRC for a payment arrangement (0800 0159 559)

 However we are experiencing massive delays getting through.

 Our advice is to defer any tax payments even if we cannot get it agreed over the phone with HMRC.

   

Rates

 There will be a cash grant available to business that are currently claiming small business rates relief. We do not have any detail as to how this will be paid yet.

You can claim small business rates relief if your Rateable Value is less than £12,000 (rateable value is different to the rates actually payable)

 You can find your rateable value from the VOA website

 https://www.tax.service.gov.uk/business-rates-find/search?_ga=2.24439225.2048854895.1584352807-2095309608.1576832665

  

The government is temporarily increasing the business rates discount for certain business sectors in England, to 100% for 2020-21 for properties below £51,000 rateable value.

This will only apply to certain types of businesses and this will be reflected on your 2020/21 Rates Bill which will arrive in the post shortly.

 

RATES RELIEFS EXPLAINED - PLEASE READ MORE  HERE 

 

Employers

 If you employ staff, please read the ACAS guidance.

 https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus

 If someone comes to work with the symptoms of CV or develops symptoms at work, please call Public Health England for advice on: 020 7654 8000.  Advice will inevitably be to send staff home but as an employer you should call.

 As an employer you will have to pay your staff Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if they are off work and need to self isolate. You will be able to reclaim any SSP paid.

 You are unlikely to get a FIT note and so we recommend that you ask the employee to put in writing why they are off ASAP. The reason for being off can include;

  • they have coronavirus
  • they have coronavirus symptoms, for example a high temperature or new continuous cough
  • they have been told to self-isolate by a doctor or NHS 111

 You should also ask them to provide regular updates.

 If as an employer, you tell your staff not to come to work, when they are not sick, they are entitled to their normal pay.

 If an employee does not want to go to work, employers should try to resolve their concerns or arrange for time off to be taken as holiday or unpaid leave.

 If an employee refuses to attend work unreasonably, then it could result in disciplinary action.

  

If you need to close the workplace - Lay-offs and short-time working

 You might need to close down the business for a period of time. Unless it says in your employment contracts or it is agreed with employees, you still need to pay their employees for this time.

 If you think that you need to do this, it is important to talk with staff as early as possible and throughout any closure. Try to be reasonable and ask your staff to be reasonable in return. They will have their own financial pressures to consider.

 Please speak to us before taking this step. It is important to follow certain procedures, to do this properly in order to protect your business

 

Using holiday

 You do have the right to tell employees and workers when to take holiday if they need to. For example, you can decide to shut for a week and everyone has to use their holiday entitlement.

 

 Dependents

 Employees are entitled to time off work to help someone who depends on them ie a child.

 However there is no statutory right for this time off and therefore it can be unpaid.

 

Banks

https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/supporting-business-loans-enterprise-finance-guarantee/enterprise-finance-guarantee-efg-delivery-partners/

The scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will support businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts.

The details regarding the Business Interruption loans will not be fully cascaded to the banks until next week. However, at the moment it would appear that these will be based around the EFG loan system.

 

  • They will be repayable in the long term.
  • Interest free for the first 6 months
  • The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a per lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs.
  • The primary guarantee will rest with the business owner and if you cannot repay you will be liable for the full balance outstanding.
  • The Government will be the secondary guarantor and will guarantee up to 80% of the loan.
  • The Government guarantee is only used if the primary guarantor cannot repay. 

Consequently, these loans should be viewed with caution at this stage, pending the full details being released

 

HSBC

 HSBC have released a practical guide of points to consider, when reviewing your business response to the pandemic:

 https://www.business.hsbc.com/novel-coronavirus

 In addition to the above we have also:

  • allocated a £5bn fund to help businesses that need support
  • launched a helpline to support any queries (08000 121 614, open 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday)

In addition, we will also consider:

  • offering repayment holidays to free up cash within your business
  • reviewing overdrafts or trade loans to allow stock to be held for longer
  • providing trade finance solutions to support you with your supply chains

 

BARCLAYS

Barclays have a dedicated Covid-19 helpline for customers who do not have a local Relationship Manager.

The number for the helpline is 08001971086, it’s open from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday

Barclays have also advised that 

We are looking to help with traditional Overdraft and for loans and commercial Mortgages above £25k we are looking to provide capital repayment holidays.

  

LLOYDS

https://www.lloydsbank.com/business/coronavirus.html

 

SANTANDER

0800 731 6666.

 

NATWEST

https://www.business.natwest.com/business/support-centre/service-status/coronavirus.html

 T:0345 711 4477

 

HANDLESBANK

Contact your relationship manager for a review

 

Other Financing;

As an alternative for loans, if you are owed money from Customers / Clients, Invoice Finance may be an alternative funding source. James Bingham is an independent broker that we recommend;

James Bingham

M: 07702098884

E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Similarly if you have assets that are not currently financed, some Asset Finance may be of use, Andy Knight is an independent broker that we recommend;

Andy Knight

Regional Manager

First Capital Finance Ltd

Tel:   01202 434000

Mob: 07879 466 560

www.firstcapitalfinance.co.uk

  

We do not receive any commission, we simply try to put clients in touch to help.

Tax Diary November/December 2019

1 November 2019 - Due date for Corporation Tax due for the year ended 31 January 2019.

19 November 2019 - PAYE and NIC deductions due for the month ended 5 November 2019. (If you pay your tax electronically the due date is 22 November 2019.)

19 November 2019 - Filing deadline for the CIS300 monthly return for the month ended 5 November 2019. 

19 November 2019 - CIS tax deducted for the month ended 5 November 2019 is payable by today.

1 December 2019 - Due date for Corporation Tax due for the year ended 28 February 2019.

19 December 2019 - PAYE and NIC deductions due for the month ended 5 December 2019. (If you pay your tax electronically the due date is 22 December 2019)

19 December 2019 - Filing deadline for the CIS300 monthly return for the month ended 5 December 2019. 

19 December 2019 - CIS tax deducted for the month ended 5 December 2019 is payable by today.

30 December 2019 - Deadline for filing 2018-19 self-assessment tax returns online to include a claim for under payments to be collected via tax code in 2020-21.

Taxing aspects of electric cars for your business

This article does not cover the risks of owning an electric car, depreciation rates etc. Instead it discusses the tax implications if you buy an electric car for business purposes.

As electric cars have zero carbon emissions for tax purposes it should be possible to claim what is called a “first year allowance” when the car is purchased from new. Effectively, this means that you can write-off up to 100% of the cost of the car against your business profits in the year that you buy the vehicle. 

This allowance is only available for new vehicle purchases. If you buy a used electric car for business, you can only claim a “main rate” writing down allowance of 18%. 

Additionally, self-employed traders will need to reduce their claim for either of these allowances if there is any private use of the vehicle.

When the car is sold, if you have claimed the 100% first year allowance then all of the proceeds of sale will be taxable as a balancing charge. The balancing charge will be reduced if there is any private use.

If you have the use of an electric company car, it will still attract a car benefit charge for the driver and a National Insurance charge for the employer, albeit at the lowest rates.

The ability to be able to write-off the cost of a car in the year of purchase is appealing as this boosts the initial cash-flow benefits of going-electric.

And, of course, there are environmental considerations…

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